Travel Tuesdays – Accessories

You don’t really need cute accessories to travel; all you really need is a way to get there and a heart full of adventure. However if you believe in horoscopes (I almost typed that as horror scopes, haha), since I am a Libra I have to surround myself with pretty things. I don’t put a lot of stock in such things, but I am a total and complete magpie and pretty things make me happy. So here are some super cute things I found that might make your travel easier, or at least more beautiful.

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(photo courtesy of seattletravelshop.com)

Scratch Off World MapHow very cool is this?! It’s a map that you can hang on your wall, and the countries are covered with that metallic coating you find on scratch off lottery tickets. Every time you visit a new country, you use a coin and scratch off that country on the map, revealing a bright color underneath – so you and others can see where you’ve been and where you still need to go. This makes me want to travel the world just to uncover the whole map. (Seattle Travel Shop, $34)

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The Perfect Travel Jewelry BookConsidering I usually just throw my jewelry into a little Ziploc baggie I think I need this in my life. This little “book” contains pages with spots for earrings and rings, pouches for small items, a mirror, and hooks for bracelets or necklaces. The whole thing zips up all the way around so nothing falls out or is lost, and there’s a protective soft flap so nothing gets scratched. Comes in four pretty colors. (Ross-Simons, $29.95; 30% off through 3/15/15 with code BIGSALE)

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(photo courtesy pinchprovisions.com)

Minimergency KitThese are super cute. Inside each little pouch for her is a bandaid, dental floss, a mending kit, double-sided tape, a pain reliever, an emery board, tampon, deodorant, stain remover, polish remover, a safety pin, earring backs, lip balm, breath drops, nail polish, and hairspray. Basically anything you could possibly need in any emergency! The pouches come in all different colors and patterns. There’s also a “For Him” version for $2 less that contains a mending kit, deodorant, buttons, safety pin, nail clipper, bandaid, stain remover, hand cleansing towelette, pain reliever, breath drops, dental floss, and shoe shine. Very handy to take on trips – it’s compact and TSA friendly! (Pinch Provisions, $16)

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(photo courtesy olloclip.com)

4-in-1 Lens for iPhone 6/6 PlusThe camera on the iPhone keeps getting better, and it is so much easier to take that on trips – since I’d have it with me all the time anyway – than to lug around my Nikon and have to worry about damaging it or leaving it somewhere. Plus it’s heavy! This great little product clips on to the phone and gives your phone photos a professional feel; s good as the lens included with your phone is – the bigger a camera lens is, the better photos it takes. There are four lens options – fisheye, wide angle, 10x macro, and 15x macro. (Olloclip, $79.99)

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Gadget CarrierThis product is pure luxe. You absolutely do not need this, but how sleek and beautiful would this look in your travel bag? This leather flip-open case is lined with a soft cotton canvas and has 4 pockets and 1 zippered pouch that can carry your phone, mp3 players, mini tablets, cords and accessories. The whole thing snaps together with brass closures. Somebody buy this for me for my birthday! (Carbon2Cobalt, $99)

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Taste for Adventure FlaskFinally, a lovely little bit of fluff for you. Like the gadget case above, you will have the time of your life on vacation without this – but how adorable is this? Having this flask on me would make me feel like Hemingway on a safari (without the big game hunting, because endangered animals). This stainless steel flask is made by British brand Wild & Wolf, who supports WaterAid – an organization committed to providing clean drinking water to people around the world. (ModCloth, $39.99)

If you’re planning your own adventure and would like a little pretty in your bags, take a look at one of these! Here’s to happy travels.

Travel Tuesday – Dreams Edition

I’ve been dreaming of vacations. Does this happen to you this time of year? I think it does to most of us, especially those of us in the midwest or – especially this year – the east coast, where winter just won’t let up even though the stores are starting to have garden supplies and swimsuits. In no particular order, here are the places I would love to visit someday.

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(photo found on amongraf.ro)

France: I spent two weeks in France the summer after my senior year of high school, and I have been wanting to go back ever since my plane touched back down on US soil. The picture above is Nice – Paris was great, of course, for the monuments and history and shopping; but the south of France is where my heart lies. If my group had accidentally left me behind in this otherworldly coastal city I would have been just fine with that. I’m determined to get back here one day, and it would be a dream come true to live there permanently.

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(photo found on Buzzfeed)

England: Anywhere in England, really. London would be a must of course, but I’d also love to see the little bucolic towns like Bibury in this picture. It seems a beautiful country with so much rich history and culture. Wales, Scotland and Ireland would be included in this dream vacation – I’d love to see it all!

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(photo found on flickr.com)

Egypt: I have been completely obsessed with Egypt since I was a little kid. I still harbor a dream of basically being Rachel Weisz in The Mummy – albeit with more historical accuracy and less gooey mummies. The culture, the history, the stories of the gods, it all fascinates me to no end. Plus I love the idea that so little of Egypt’s treasures have been found – that there’s still more wonders to unearth in the sand. It’s still not the happiest place on earth, politically, although one small grace is the fact that they rely heavily on tourism for income, which means that tourists are still safer here than in many other Middle Eastern countries. I’m still determined to get there one day and see the pyramids and temples for myself.

Where do you dream of traveling?

Travel Tuesday – Road Trip Playlist

Music is big aspect of any road trip. You want to set the right mood, you want to stay awake, you want to have fun – especially if you have to drive through somewhere like Iowa (no offense Iowa. Your cornfields are … lovely). So I put together a Spotify list of songs I like to drive to! These are in no particular order, and I couldn’t figure out how to shuffle them around anyway. I’m new to Spotify so if anyone has any tips feel free to comment!

1. and 2. “Firework” and “Roar” by Katy Perry: I have a love/hate affair with Katy Perry. She makes some very good songs. She also makes some very not so good songs, and isn’t the best live performer in the world. But when she’s on, she is on – and these two songs are a blast to belt out in the car.

3. “Blow” by Kesha: I love Kesha. I love performers who are unabashedly weird and wonderful and don’t give a flip what you think. And she can actually sing – my range goes pretty high, and she hits notes that I couldn’t even dream of hitting. This song is fun, and the video is hilarious.

4. “Surrender” by Angels & Airwaves: This is usually not my type of music – I’m not the biggest Blink 182 fan, and this band features former member Tom DeLonge – but this song just makes me dance.

5. “We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel: Classic. Bonus points if you know all the words! I still wish he’d make an updated version of this song – like from where he left off in this song to now – but I guess he isn’t desperate enough for money.

6. “Everybody Wants You” by Billy Squier: Another classic song! Again it’s just super upbeat and makes me want to dance. Poor guy. He was so talented but had no stage presence – his career was literally killed by his terrible MTV videos.

7. and 8. “Remedy” and “Hard to Handle” by The Black Crowes: My dad plays guitar and is big into the blues, so I always gravitate towards bluesy rock songs and bands. These are a blast to sing.

9. “Gold on the Ceiling” by The Black Keys: Another Southern rock/bluesy band! I just got into them last year, after they kept showing up on various Pandora playlists. This song gets the blood pumping – it’s got a great beat.

10. “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes: I never used to like this song; I wasn’t the biggest fan of Jack White’s voice. It’s still not my favorite voice, but this song grew on me over the years. This bass line just will not quit, and the lyrics are quite good.

11. “Steady, As She Goes” by The Raconteurs: Another Jack White band. I had a version a while ago – I think it was a free song on iTunes for a bit – that is acoustic, rather than the electric original. I actually kind of preferred the acoustic version; you see the artistry that goes into the song rather than it being covered up by studio tricks. But the original here definitely jams along, and will keep your fingers tapping.

12. “Womanizer” by Britney Spears: There are a lot of Britney songs I could have put into this playlist, but I’ll always have a soft spot for the first song she did after she climbed out of her long slog of madness. I mean sure, she’s still not 100% but I remember seeing this video and thinking, “Hot damn she might be back finally”.

13. “Scream & Shout” by will.I.am and Britney Spears: Okay this is not high art, I know. But it is a fun song, has a good beat, and who can resist her “and Britney, bitch” aside?

14. “Should I Stay or Should I Go” by The Clash: One of the few punk bands I can stand. I appreciate punk’s place in music history, but most of it grates on my nerves. The Clash’s songs rock, but they’re fun too.

15. and 16. “Suffragette City” and “Dead Man Walking” by David Bowie: I could have made an entire playlist consisting of only Bowie songs, to be honest. I’ve loved everything he’s ever done, pretty much. But I limited myself to these two, one classic and one more recent-ish.

17. “Five to One” by The Doors: The Doors are not really known for their happy upbeat songs. I wouldn’t really call this one happy either, but it is primal, and one of the best showcases of Jim Morrison’s vocal prowess.

18. and 19. “Electric Twist” and “Blow Away” by A Fine Frenzy: Alison Sudol is one of the loveliest creatures to ever grace this planet, and I love her music so much. She errs on the side of ballads or slower songs, but these two just make me happy beyond all words.

20. and 21. “You’ve Got the Dirtee Love” and “Dog Days Are Over” by Florence + The Machine: They have a new album coming out! Are you as excited as I am?! Like Bowie I could have just made a playlist of all of Flo’s songs but instead I picked two. The live mashup of “You’ve Got the Love” and “Dirtee Cash” she did with Dizzee Rascal at the Brit Awards never ever fails to get me dancing, and “Dog Days” will be known as a classic years from now.

22. “I’m No Angel” by The Gregg Allman Band: The anthem of flawed heroes everywhere. This is just a good song.

23. “Kashmir” by Led Zeppelin: This is probably my absolute favorite Led Zepp song. The guitar work is flawless, it’s epic in both musicality and subject matter, and it shows how much range Robert Plant has in his voice – his trademark wail is very restrained here.

24. “Generals” by The Mynabirds: I talked about this song in an earlier post. Again, like A Fine Frenzy, this is a band whose music is usually softer, but this one is a rocker.

25. “I Like It” by Enrique Iglesias feat. Pitbull: This song makes you get up and dance. If it doesn’t I’m not so sure about you. Like “Scream & Shout” it’s not high art – and has some questionable lyrics – but it’s just a fun song.

26. “Ghost” by Ella Henderson: I saw an article about her on Buzzfeed, but I wasn’t so sure about this song at first. Fast forward a few months, and this song kept catching my ear every time it came on the radio, and now I’m obsessed with it. I don’t know why the Brits do soul better than us, but if you like Adele or Duffy or Amy Winehouse, check Ella out.

27., 28. and 29. “Dangerous”, “Summertime Sadness”, and “Our Solemn Hour” by Within Temptation: And now the metal portion of our program. I grew up listening to metal thanks to my mother – she listened to Black Sabbath and Judas Priest along with her classical and opera. In Europe (mostly) there is this whole sub genre of metal bands featuring operatic singers or elements; Within Temptation hails from Denmark and Sharon den Adel’s soprano voice adds major drama to these songs. It’s not on this playlist since it’s a ballad, but check out their version of Passenger’s “Let Her Go”.

30. “Red Stars” by The Birthday Massacre: This band’s songs are very melodic for a metal band; this is probably one of their hardest rocking songs that I’ve heard. Chibi’s voice sounds like a fairytale, which is interesting matched up with the head-banging music.

Here’s to good songs and good road trips – happy travels!

Travel Tuesdays – Tote Bags/Carry Ons

When you take a flight, do you check your luggage? I used to, until Delta switched it so the first bag isn’t free anymore, and when I’m (usually) just going home to see the parents for a long weekend, I don’t really want to pay extra! The price of the ticket is extravagant enough. So instead, I stuff everything I can into a carry on suitcase, and bring a large tote bag that fits my purse and anything else that I couldn’t fit into the carry on.

I found a blue mesh tote bag on clearance at Target, but if you’d like something a little more posh, here are five options I found around the web!

Steampunk Bird Messenger BagShana Logic: Shana Logic is a website that works with independent artists, and features all handmade items. This messenger bag is super cute, a dark brown with a fun steampunk bird motif in black. It is 11.5″ by 16″, and 5″ deep, so it will fit any books, makeup bags, magazines, tablets, or anything else you need to stuff in there. It has a magnetic snap closure, and zippered interior pockets. They also have other designs – vintage map, moon phases, periodic table of elements – but I liked this one best.

Keystone State Weekend BagModcloth: ModCloth is the place to go for vintage and thrift store styles, all at fairly reasonable prices. This one is a real beauty, a large faux leather tote in two-tone brown with a neat brass skeleton key closure. At 13″x19″x7″, it will not only fit books and purses but probably a throw blanket and a few clothes while you’re at it! It has a removable, adjustable shoulder strap, and two interior pockets, one zippered.

Original Penguin Canvas Tote6pm.com: If you don’t need to bring your whole wardrobe and blankets and pillows and just need something that fits a few books and magazines, this is a handsome option. It’s a classic canvas tote bag in dark khaki and green. It features dual shoulder straps, one zippered and three slip pockets on the outside, and one slip pocket on the inside. It is 17″x14 1/2″x3″, so again it won’t fit everything, but it’s a nice smaller slim option.

Big Tote BagMango: Mango is a UK brand, but their website ships to the US. This pebbled faux leather tote bag comes in black or this beautiful bright blue, which is sure to perk up any travel outfit! It features dual top handles, a detachable shoulder strap, one inner zippered pocket, and a magnetic closure. At 14.17″x8.27″x6.3″ it’s bigger than your standard handbag, big enough to stash any other bags or books you need to take with you.

Faux Leather Washed CarryallYesStyle: Finally, a lovely faded army green tote from YesStyle! As the pictures in the link show, this would look very chic while you traverse airports and car rental lots. It features dual top handles, dual detachable adjustable shoulder straps, two zippered side pockets and a zippered pocket front and back on the outside, and two zippered pockets and two slip pockets on the inside.

So next time you travel, carry a fun tote bag instead of the backpack you’ve had since college! Traveling can be stressful and tiring – a fun bag may be all it takes to perk up your mood!

Travel Tuesday – Snowbird Edition

We’re in the long slog of winter now. The slow march down the backside of the hill, which seems like it keeps going on and on and on until finally, when you think you can’t take it anymore, spring appears in the valley. It’s for this reason that many people choose to take a vacation somewhere – anywhere – warm and maybe tropical. Retail stores want to take advantage of this instinct, naturally, so if you ever wondered why swimsuits start showing up in Target and other places right after Christmas, there’s your answer.

To be fair, this is one of the easiest Minnesota winters I’ve lived through so far. We haven’t had a ton of snow (I have pictures from one year where the snowbanks on our driveway were over my head), and we’ve only had one, maybe two weeks of deep freeze temps. Still, if I could, I would love to take off to somewhere with a beach and warm sunshine! If I was lucky enough to make it somewhere warm, I would consider splurging a little on a fabulous retro swimsuit.

Retro is poised to be one of the big trends in swimwear this year. I’ve even seen an example or two pop up in Target’s offerings. So I searched the internet last night for some great pieces you can buy now, if you’re lucky enough to take a snowbird vacation, and found these!

Wonder Woman Halter One Piece – Starting off with a bang here. This is fantastic! I found this and the next one on a site called Pinup Girl Clothing; they have a ton of different styles. None of them are super cheap – they average around $100 – so at $40 this one is kind of a steal. It features a deep plunge halter neckline and a low cut back, and Wonder Woman’s signature red, blue and stars design. This is hot, and in this day and age of comic book movies, it will get you noticed at the beach.

Tiger Bikini – That link is just for the top; bottoms are here. This is so Bettie Page – animal print, high waisted bottoms, bra style top. The lovely thing about retro or vintage styles is they’re better tailored to curvy feminine shapes – and the high waists can hide a multitude of sins. The top is $64 and the bottoms are $48.

High Tide and True One-Piece in Navy – ModCloth is another great resource for vintage style clothing. This $89.99 one-piece is super adorable, with it’s polka dots, ivory collar neckline and low-cut legs. Add a great floppy hat, big sunglasses and red lips and you’ll be the talk of the pool.

Navy and Red One-Piece Sailor Swimsuit – Classic sailor style. Red and white striped top combined with a rich navy bodice, plus six buttons like you’d find on sailor pants. This $88 suit also features a tummy control panel and red and white striped detailing on the legs that help slim the leg and hip area.

High-Waisted Leopard Bikini Set – Now for a couple cheaper options. This set is super cute – it features a leopard print bustier-style top with a zipper and high waisted black bottoms with a leopard tie. It’s on sale for $16.95 and they only have size small left! Which means Mama might get a new bikini this year …

Two-Tone Ruffled SwimsuitYesStyle is one of several websites out there that ship from the Hong Kong area. When checking out these websites, it’s definitely a good idea to research them online – BBB rankings, customer reviews, etc. There are some out there that are a tad shady, but I’ve never had any problem with this website. It ships fairly quickly, for coming from Hong Kong – I think the last time I ordered something, it took about 1-2 weeks – and the items are good quality. Just be aware that shipping does take longer than other websites, and most of their clothing is one size, so check the measurements! This site has a conversion chart which is super helpful. Not all of their swim styles are retro, but they definitely have a good selection of retro style suits – this super cute ivory and black ruffled one-shoulder number reminds me of something Sophia Loren would wear! They also have a white and black off-the-shoulder style. Both are $16.11.

So if you’re going somewhere warm on vacation, take a look at one of these! And come pick me up and smuggle me in your suitcase. I’m small and I don’t mind, I swear!

Travel Tuesdays – Winter Carnival

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Do you like winter? Believe it or not there are people out there that do! My boyfriend is one of them – he’s not happy if there aren’t feet of snow on the ground in the wintertime. Here in Minnesota, you either love it or you learn to tolerate it, because it lasts for what seems like most of the year.

January and February can be the most trying months of winter. Holidays are over, the snow stopped being cute long ago, and it’s brutally cold. If you’d like to inject a little magic back into these bleak months, head to St. Paul come January 22nd for the Winter Carnival!

There are lots of events to remind you why winter can actually be cool – ice skating, ice sculpture contests, parades, and sometimes (if they can get the funding) an ice castle! There’s also a rich history behind this event which has been held every winter for over 100 years in St. Paul. Each year a prominent member of the community is nominated to be King Boreas, King of the Winds. He and his Queen of the Snows and their Princesses lord over the Carnival, along with Klondike Kate providing some burlesque-type song and merriment. His enemy, Vulcanus Rex the God of Fire and his Vulcans, plot to overthrow him – a feat which is accomplished every year at the end of the Carnival, thus showing winter out the door and ushering in the spring thaw! Even if that doesn’t actually happen until May in Minnesota. 😉

It’s actually quite a fun event, so if you find yourself in Minnesota this time of year – or fancy a visit – do check it out!